Hmmm. . . . Must be spring... Hardly anyone's laying about reading or drinking Ola Dubh ale from the Harviestoun Brewery in Scotland to stay warm. . . . And more than one of the Several Annies has gotten a stern warning from Mrs. Ware about taking proper precautions if they're headed off to Caterhaugh with their kirtles green. . . .
Hell, even the Neverending Session has decamped to the Courtyard to play in the truly warm afternoon sun! So indeed do join us later in that Courtyard as they will be joined by Chasing Fireflies, a wonderful contradance band with Reynard on concertina, a lass named Finch 0n medieval great pipes, Eldritch Steel player Wicker on harp, and Bêla on violin, with a surprise guest caller!
Of course, we have lots of interesting reviews, including a scathing look at the Beowulf film scripted by Neil Gaiman, a glowing review of recording that has Joan Baez in top form on it, and not one, but three, novels made into audio editions with varying degrees of reviewer satisfaction!
But first, a story of Spring going-ons that would meet with the approval of Pan. . . .
Oh, dear. Look at those clouds over the Wood. I guess I'd better wait before I go out to meet Mr. Kit. Storm? Oh, no, it's not really storming. Well, I guess -- sort of: they're still fighting.
Darn. I was really looking forward to it -- one of the vixens has new kits and agreed to let me come and meet them. She's some sort of distant relation to Mr. Kit and said it was alright because I'm family, since Mr. Robert's sort of adopted me. And Mr. Kit says I need to know something besides books and CDs and spelling and I should come out to the Wood now and then. He promised to show me all sorts of wonderful things, and Mr. Robert agreed that it was a good idea, so I was to have an outing today. I guess I'll have to wait. Oh, shoot! Paidreg was going to come along -- Mrs. Ware said he could have the day off -- and he was really looking forward to it and promised he'd be really careful around the fox kits. He means well, but he's a little clumsy sometimes. I'd better tell him so he can make arrangements. (That what Mr. Mackenzie always calls it, 'making arrangements.' Doesn't that sound very grown-up and mysterious?)
What was that? Oh -- well, Mr. Kit says they're not really fighting, because they don't fight, at least not with each other. They just had a little misunderstanding. I only know what Mr. Kit told me. Mr. Robert wasn't around to ask. Come to think of it, I haven't seen him for a couple of days. I guess that's why.
They were having another picnic in the Wood, just the two of them, the way they do when the weather is nice, although Mr. Kit said that even if it's chilly, they don't mind, because they can raise the temperature pretty easily. I didn't know anyone could do things like that with weather and such. And I guess they were just relaxing a bit, getting a little exercise. (Mr. Robert says exercise is very important, and I should be careful to get some exercise every day.) Anyway, Mr. Kit said they were sporting. Maybe they were playing hide-and-seek or something -- that would be a good game for the Wood, don't you think? -- but he didn't really say. And Mr. Robert bit him. I guess he's started changing when he's in the Wood, somehow. I don't really understand it, to tell the truth, but Mr. Kit says it's been happening for a while -- it's because of his true nature, and it only happens in the Wood. He says he doesn't mind a playful nip now and then -- it makes their games more exciting, he says -- but Mr. Robert's started having fangs. At any rate, Mr. Kit reacted badly -- he said it drew blood -- and then Mr. Robert got upset, and. . . .
Where? I don't know. I guess it was someplace sort of sensitive. I asked, but Mr. Kit says I'm too young to know about such things and wouldn't tell me anything more, just that Mr. Robert was sulking. He admitted it was mostly his fault -- Mr. Robert apologized right away, while he was putting a bandage on it, but Mr. Kit was too worked up to listen right then and started yelling, and so Mr. Robert went up a tree and won't come down. So that's why it's been storming over the Wood.
Camille Alexa decided to watch the Neil Gaiman scripted version of Beowulf and write her review as a stream of consciousness commentary as she watched. The result is nothing less than delightful. She says 'Much as a lit 'zine poetry editor quickly grows to loath doggerel verse, so does any rational modern SF&F enthusiast grow to loathe bad computer animation. Beowulf isn't bad for what it is, but that's like saying steak tartare isn't bad for what it is when you're a hardcore vegan -- not everything is to everyone's taste.' Find out what else she has to say about this oft-panned film!
Kage Baker gives us our Featured Recorded Music Review this time around with a review of Captain Bogg & Salty's latest release, Emphatical Piratical. Kage starts by telling us that 'My favorite pirate-rock band is back!' Pirate-rock band? Yes, we truly do review quite the range of music here at Green Man Review and who better to review pirate-rock than the author of a pirate/ghost series? Kage tells us that 'the lyrics are squeaky-clean, Disney-clean, clever and FUNNY. Monty-Python funny. Rocky-and-Bullwinkle funny. Make-adults-laugh-out-loud funny.' In the end, she gives this ten Jolly Rogers out of ten and gets herself an Excellence in Writing award for a fun review of a fun album.
Kestrell Rath had to pry the latest Ellen Datlow anthology, Troll's Eye View -- A Book of Villainous Tales, out of our Editor's hands as he really, really wanted to read it. (Ellen promised him a signed copy so he reluctantly let go of it. Very reluctantly) Was it worth the hassle on her part? Quite so as she note 'that 'a handful of cases the resulting tales are stunningly, even unsettlingly, dark and beautiful.' Now you know there's a lot more to review than that mere fragment so go read the whole Excellence in Writing Award-winning review thisaway. Oh, and do watch out for trolls in the Green Man garden!
Camille Alexa found an unexpected gem in Ariel Gore's debut novel. She tells us 'The Traveling Death and Resurrection Show manages to demystify the mythos of Catholic sainthood, rendering it accessible and genuine with talent and a gentle acknowledgement of the inexplicable.' More detail here.
Camille claims that the first time she heard the word 'flamewar,' it was in reference to comment thread on John Scalzi's Whatever blog. She writes, 'So neither disliking Whatever nor being a devotee, I had no particular expectations going into Scalzi's Your Hate Mail Will Be Graded: a Decade of Whatever, 1998-2008. Several things struck me very quickly. First, this was some engaging shit!' Engaging in what way? Read her Excellence in Writing Award-winning review.
Kathleen Bartholomew takes an Excellence in Writing Award-winning look at a classic '70s novel from Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle, Inferno. She says that this take on Dante's Inferno 'is one of the better books either of them has written. It is clever but also wise, which is very rare in science fiction. The setting of Hell itself is thoroughly horrific, but the action and descriptions are restrained enough to let character and philosophy drive the plot. The scholarship is ingenious and impeccable.'
Donna Bird looks at three art books by Michael Haag -- Alexandria Illustrated, Cairo Illustrated and Vintage Alexandria, of which she says 'If you read these pages with any regularity, you may have noticed by now that I am rather hopelessly enamored of books about modern Egypt. Fiction, history, travel, you name it, I'll gladly give it a try. So I was quite beside myself when these lovely picture books showed up in a package from International Publishers Marketing. If these books are any indication, London-based writer and photographer Michael Haag also seems to be fascinated by modern Egypt. They are a feast for the eyes, with just enough narrative to provide a context for the photographs.' Read her review here.
J.J.S. Boyce has just had a listen to an audio version of book two in Kay Kenyon's four-book sequence, A World Too Near. Boyce may have a few quibbles with this one, but says, 'If one is willing to suspend one's disbelief, these quibbles do fade into the background, as one becomes wrapped up in the characters and the story.' Curious about the quibbles? Read more here.
As introduction to the review of another audio offering, Boyce writes, 'In some ways, I can thank my high school English classes for sparking my long love of speculative fiction.' Boyce apparently had a happier high school English class experience than many of us, but how does the sentiment relate to Elizabeth Moon's The Speed of Dark?
Faith J. Cormier looks at a Subterranean Press offering, the late Thomas M. Disch's The Proteus Sails Again: Further Adventures at the End of the World. This book seems not to have been Ms. Cormier's 'slurp of blood.' After all, how much can one enjoy 'someone else's misery, even well-written misery'? Read the review to see if you're up for this one.
Dennis Dutton thought she wasn't familiar with Ronald Kelly, until she dug into Midnight Grinding. She was surprised to realize she did know his work from various collections. And did she like what she found? Judge for yourself: "So what started out as just another review turned into a sort of fact-finding mission to see what else he has going on. The result? Midnight Grinding is a fabulous collection of tales well told that may keep you up at night either checking under the bed . . . or tucked firmly under your covers too scared to even take a peek."
Cat Eldridge has just finished the fourth volume of Neil Gaiman's Absolute Sandman editions. He says, 'Now that I've read all four volumes to date . . . I can say that if you're feeling very wealthy, the four hundred dollars full price for the four volumes is well worth investing! Now I say that with a caveat that will you find as I discuss this particular volume.' Four hundred dollars and only one caveat! A review worth reading!
Of the unabridged audio version of Simon R. Green's Sharper Than A Serpent's Tooth, Cat says, 'I have absolutely no idea how I managed to miss reading this entire trilogy of novels but the end result was that I approached Sharper Than A Serpent's Tooth not knowing anything at all as to how Green would resolve the Lilith story.' Good thing or bad thing?
Robert M. Tilendis has griped loudly in the editors' break room that he's seen far too many collections as of late but this one still impressed him -- 'The Wreck of the Godspeed and Other Stories is my first real encounter with the fiction of James Patrick Kelly. Many of these stories have graced other collections -- notably, a number of 'best of' collections -- and have been nominated for almost every award you can think of, and the final entry, 'Burn,' is a Nebula Award winner. This is one of those instances where I'm not inclined to argue. This is a strong group of stories, elegantly constructed, that display, quite aside from their remarkable polish, something I've noticed in the work of other 'young' writers lately.' Go read his review now to see why he was impressed!
Gary Whitehouse took a look at Escape From Hell by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle. Did he think it a worthy endeavor? He writes, 'I found myself wishing that the authors had delved a bit further into an obvious potential explanation for the existence of Hell.' See what went right with this one, and what didn't, according to Gary.
Gary says, 'I was enthralled with Dan Simmons's Hyperion and Endymion quartet when I first read them, which was probably around the turn of the Millennium. It's a sprawling science fiction yarn that covers many of the genre's major themes: time travel, artificial intelligence, faster-than-light travel, and good ol' shoot-em-up space opera.' In his review, he tells us how he thought the audio version measured up to the original book.
Scott Giannelli brings us a review of Eliza Carthy's Dreams of Breathing Underwater. Eliza is the daughter of Norma Waterson and Martin Carthy, but has established her own music career, as shown in her latest release. Scott tells us that 'her adventurous streak comes out' in a number of different music styles in this, 'one of her strongest albums to date.'
Scott also takes us to the Faroe Islands this week with his review of two albums from Faroese rockers Tyr. Tyr, Scott tells us, are part of the latest Faroese export, 'heavy metal deeply rooted in Norse pagan mythology.' Not only is their mythology reflected in their two albums, Ragnarok and Land, but we also get Faroese traditional melodies and tunes, all tinged with heavy metal riffs. Scott reports that 'I can't really say I'm much of a metal fan. . . . By the third or fourth listen, though, I was totally digging it.'
Tradition is as important in the handing-down as in the taking up, so it's always encouraging to see children following in the footsteps of their great parents. David Kidney brings us a review of one such legacy. Shemekia Copeland, daughter of blues guitarist Johnny Copeland has been delivering great music herself for many years now and her fifth album, Never Going Back is no exception. David reports that Shemekia 'surrounds herself with a great band' that 'gets things off to a fiery start, but the album never lets up.'
David also takes a look at two re-releases from the late, multitalented Isaac Hayes. Stax records has just reissued Black Moses and Juicy Fruit (Disco Freak) in deluxe packages 'and they are great to look at and listen to.' For those of you who are familiar with Isaac Hayes from his role in South Park, David's review is a great place to broaden your horizons. If you're familiar with Hayes' musical work, then here's a chance to become reacquainted with two great albums.
Robert M. Tilendis takes us to the intersection of classical and world music with Sharon Isbin's Journey to the New World. Robert found it 'tremendously evocative and, to put it succinctly, quite beautiful.' He was 'captivated and ultimately seduced' by this collection of guitar and lute pieces, ranging from renaissance to Joan Baez. Robert reports that 'if you're expecting classical guitar, there are other releases by Isbin more in that vein. This one is an indirect and polished survey of where our 'traditional' music came from and some of the places it has gone. Very nice.'
'Music from the other side of Nashville' is how Gary Whitheouse describes the music of Eric Brace and Peter Cooper, who have teamed up on the humorously titled You Don't Have to Like Them Both. Gary describes it as 'an excellent album of great songs, superbly performed and recorded,' featuring Brace's 'craggy baritone' and Cooper's tenor, as well as a band of some of Nashville's absolute finest musicians.
Gary then brings us the latest from Ramblin' Jack Elliott, A Stranger Here. Elliott's been singing the blues for more than 50 years, having learned at the feet of Woody Guthrie, but that longevity has not blunted his ability to give us great blues music. Gary reports that, 'As always, Ramblin' Jack doesn't overplay, or over-sing or over-emote. He just nails it, time after time.'
Western Oregon (especially the Portland area) is quickly becoming a center for great indie and trad music. Gary brings to our attention a number of artists who have relocated to Oregon in the past few years and are putting out enjoyable music. First up is Fernando Viciconte whose seventh album, True Instigator, has Gary raving about its range and variety, telling us that this could be Fernando's breakout album. Next is a review of two recent transplants, Paula Sinclair and Kate Mann. Sinclair's album, Steady Girl, is a winner, featuring 'strong vocals, well-written songs, good arrangements and excellent players.' Kate Mann makes her debut with Things Look Different When the Sun Goes Down. Gary reports that Mann has 'a voice that is fresh but still manages to sound lived-in' and that this is 'a very promising debut.'
Finally, Gary wraps up our Recorded Music reviews this time out with a look at Mike Utley's latest band, Magnolia Mountain. Their album, Nothing As It Was is 'a warm, likable collection of Americana that combines country, folk and bluegrass sounds' where 'Celtic and Appalachian roots find their expression.'
We should remind you about our special editions which are our way of looking at specific writers and other subjects worthy of exploring in-depth. Of course, we've done several editions on master storyteller Peter S. Beagle which you can find thisaway and over 'ere. Needless to say, we're very proud of the great edition on Charles de Lint we did.
We did one on the ever fascinating trio of Brian, Toby, and Wendy Froud; naturally we did one on master storyteller J.R.R. Tolkien who is much loved by our staff; not to mention ones on Catherynne M. Valente, Patricia McKillip, and Elizabeth Bear
Oh, our Editor just reminded me that we did (as if I could 'ave forgotten!) an edition devoted to the now departed and much missed Year's Best Fantasy & Horror anthology.
For our main page, please go here; to search the roots, branches, and leaves of This Tree, use the Google search engine; every past edition of our fortnightly What's New can be found here; for a detailed look at Green Man Review, go thisaway; and lastly, you report errors over here. Still have questions? Email our Editor here. Provided he's not in the Green Man Pub savouring a properly poured pint of Guinness while listening to Father Time tell a tale, he'll try to answer your question!
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